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‘It definitely felt like a victory’: USC students share thoughts on Supreme Court DACA decision

There’s a feeling of celebration — but three students we spoke with are already focused on what’s next.

Supreme Court DACA decision: Genesis Guerra and Paulina Rodriguez
Genesis Guerra, left, and Paulina Rodriguez admit they were both anxious in advance of Thursday’s DACA ruling. (Photos/Courtesy of Genesis Guerra and Paulina Rodriguez)

USC junior Paulina Rodriguez woke up Thursday morning preparing for the worst. Despite remaining hopeful, she did not anticipate that the U.S. Supreme Court would reject President Donald Trump’s attempt to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — also known as DACA — with a 5-4 decision.

“The idea of losing hundreds of thousands of working and/or educated Americans who have lived all their lives here would have been an unimaginable tragedy. So, yes, this is definitely a celebration,” Rodriguez said. “But, of course, I am celebrating with caution.”

The Department of Homeland Security had rescinded DACA, which had temporarily halted deportation and provided work permits for undocumented students whose immigrant parents brought them to the U.S. as children. Thursday’s ruling restored the program.

Expressing caution after Supreme Court DACA ruling

The effects of Thursday’s ruling have been felt across the USC community, with students like Rodriguez voicing both relief and concern.

One thing is clear: Regardless of who America votes for, we will still have to keep fighting.

Paulina Rodriguez

“After the celebrations — which never really last long before something else comes up — we all have to mobilize, first in getting people out to vote and then working on a new plan for the next term,” Rodriguez said. “Because one thing is clear: Regardless of who America votes for, we will still have to keep fighting.”

Like Rodriguez, sophomore Genesis Guerra said she was extremely anxious leading up to the decision and was “ecstatic” after it was announced. Coming from a public school in Dallas, Guerra — a U.S. citizen — said she knew a lot of people affected by DACA. Guerra knew the privileges she had compared to them and worked to show her support in Dallas and when she arrived at USC.

“I had some suitemates my first year at USC, and a few of them were of DACA status — and seeing their struggle was something I have always sympathized with,” Guerra said. “I know today’s decision, although it isn’t a road to citizenship, will give them ease as they won’t have to fear deportation.”

Supreme Court DACA decision: Students expected bad news

Junior Karen Mendoza is the president of IDEAS at USC, an organization dedicated to enhancing and bringing awareness to issues undocumented students face. Mendoza is also a part of steering for the California Dream Network and said she had been expecting some negative news on Thursday morning.

I was relieved and felt like the weight of uncertainty had been lifted off my shoulders.

Karen Mendoza

“IDEAS planned a course of action centered around helping our students cope with the anxiety and devastation that would come with the termination of DACA,” Mendoza said. “When I received the message that it was positive, I was relieved and felt like the weight of uncertainty had been lifted off my shoulders.”

However, all three students said the fight hasn’t really stopped. Thursday’s decision does not prevent future moves to end DACA, though some experts think it’s unlikely that the Trump administration will move again before the November election.

“We will not stop fighting until we have a clean pathway to citizenship that doesn’t only support the ‘good Dreamer’ narrative or make us throw our parents under the bus,” Mendoza said. “We are far from immigration reform, but this win is motivation for us to continue.”

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‘It definitely felt like a victory’: USC students share thoughts on Supreme Court DACA decision

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